Vuelta route reactions

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne, second in 2006)

"It's a hard route but a very nice one. In terms of difficulty, it's similar enough to this year's race.

"There are some hard stages such as the one to Lagos [de Covadonga]. I think the time trials are good, too. Overall I think it is a very nice Vuelta."

When asked if one year he will concentrate exclusively on training for the Vuelta: "For the moment, the big goal is to do a good Tour de France, that is the top priority. But after that I'd like to ride well here."

On sharing team leadership with Oscar Pereiro in the Tour and Vuelta: "It is possible that we can both do well. If you look at this year's race, Andrey Kashechkin and Alexandre Vinokourov were both up there [first and third]."

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne, 49th in 2006)

"It looks good. I think the route is a little easier than this year and that is good for those riders who don't think too much about [doing] the Vuelta. I think after seeing this route, it is not very, very hard and that may be better in some ways.

"I live six kilometres from Vigo and so it is very special for me that the race will begin there. I think this is the best sensation for me, after being a professional for eight years.

"My big goal next year is to go to the Tour de France in top shape," he continued. "I'm not sure yet where I will end up [with regards to this year's race] but riding well there again is a priority. After how things went this year, I think it is going to be the biggest race in my programme. After that, the Vuelta will be the second priority for me.

"I have many dreams in the sport, and winning the Vuelta is one of them."

On how he will prepare in 2007: "I will have the same programme as this year, but I will do things differently after the Tour. This year things were a bit complicated due to commitments and receptions and all that. It made it very hard to train properly for the Vuelta."

Denis Menchov (Rabobank, winner in 2005)

"I will try to win but to do so in such a long race is tough. The first part of the Vuelta is the hardest. I don't think that this course is as difficult as this year's race, but then anything can happen over three weeks.

"I think this is quite different to the 2005 Vuelta. The early part of this race is very hard and then the final three days are too. But 2005 was tough throughout the whole three weeks.

"I think I will do largely the same programme as in 2006. The Tour de France is the big goal; after that, we will see."

José Ángel Gómez Marchante (Saunier Duval)

"I think the course is good. I think there are hard mountains at the start, then a more tranquil few stages before it gets tough again at the finish. I think it is probably of a similar difficulty to this year, although the inclusion of the Lagos [de Covadonga] and Abantos will lead to some good racing. Both these days are important, plus the two other summit finishes and then the stage to Granada as well."

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